As the first storms announce the end of Summer in the Northern hemisphere and the return to work for many of us, this is the perfect time to reflect on the progress we have made to date, on our journey to Customer Centricity.
Organisations need to take a step back occasionally and review how their plans are going. What changes do they need to make to ensure they meet their objectives over the remainder of the year? So here are my ten ways to tell if you are well on your way to becoming truly customer-centric – and what actions you can take to get further along your journey.
#1. Identify the category in which you are competing
This may sound strange to you, but many brands are not competing in the category in which they first thought they were. Think soup which is now a meal replacement, or laptops which are now entertainment platforms.
ACTION: Review how your product or service fits into the customers’ daily life and how they compare and decide between options. This will help you identify your real competitors and the actual category in which you are competing.
#2. Understand your primary target
Knowing precisely who the customer is for each of your brands is the first essential step to satisfying them. Use the BCG Matrix to help select the best group. Do you already work with this matrix, or do you have a better system? Please share your own best practice below, so I can learn.
ACTION: Review the target audience for each of your brands and ensure you have information on their “4Ws”. In other words the Who, What, Where and Why: demographics, purchase, usage, media use, places of purchase, consumption, connections to communications, their values, usage motivations and emotions when doing so. If you would like to learn more about targeting, check out this post.
#3. Watch and listen to your customers
Personal experience of your customers is essential to putting them at the heart of your business. When was the last time you watched and listed to your own customers?
ACTION: Ensure everyone has regular – ideally monthly – contact with the customer. This can be by listening in at the call centre, watching market research interviews & discussions, or observing customers as they shop and use your product / service.
#4. Know what current trends could mean for your business
Many organisations follow trends, but these don’t provide a competitive advantage. It’s time you started turning them into future scenarios or why not start future prototyping?
ACTION: Identify the most relevant trends for your brand and then project them into the future to develop two axes of uncertainty and four plausible future worlds. These will help prepare the business for future opportunities and challenges. Alternatively, why not try Sci-Fi Future Prototyping?
#5. Reinvent your innovation
Most organisations innovate based upon their current knowledge and technical skills. This keeps them boxed into a narrow band of categories. Are you doing the same?
ACTION: Take your NPD thinking outside its box, by making use of all relevant innovation levers, including, but not limited to, packaging, channels, sourcing, communications, branding, services and business model. Check this post for more details about innovating more creatively.
#6. Follow your image
It is amazing how many companies don’t follow their brand images on a regular basis. Image trends are a great way to be alerted to possible sales issues before they appear in the numbers.
ACTION: Identify the major image attributes of both your own and competitor brands, and measure them regularly (annually for fast moving categories, every two to three years for slower moving ones).
#7. Turn your information into insight
Whilst information and knowledge are essential to gather, it is only when they are turned into understanding and insight that they become truly actionable and help your journey to improved customer centricity.
ACTION: Review your insight development process and ensure decisions about customer satisfaction are based on them and not just on information. Insights ensure your communications resonate with your customers and your product / service delights and sometimes surprises them.
#8. Share your information and insights
Companies spend a lot of money gathering data and information about the market and its customers. However, in most cases they are actually spending far too much money because the information that is needed may already be available somewhere else in the company.
ACTION: Review your organisation’s information needs and negotiate contracts and access company-wide, rather than by department. Make your information and insights available to everyone in the company through a library or database with appropriately managed access rights.
#9. Evaluate your progress
As the infamous quote from Peter Drucker says:
“What gets measured gets managed”
Besides brand image, are you following other KPIs to measure your progress on your journey to customer centricity? How did you choose them and when did you last update their specifications?
ACTION: Identify the three to five most important areas in which you want to improve and then measure them consistently. If the numbers aren’t trending up, act – see #10. below. The actual metrics you follow will depend upon your industry, but may include market comparison (shares), availability (distribution or out-of-stock) communications impact, competitivity, value.
#10. Plan for action
Once you have identified the KPIs to follow, you need to take action to improve those that are trending downwards and perhaps also those which are remaining stable. After all, you have identified these metrics as key to your business.
ACTION: Since your KPIs are the most important numbers for your business, plan actions as soon as their trend changes and don’t wait for them to start declining. Once they are on their way down, it is much, much more difficult to reverse their trend.
So how did you do? Know that these steps will ensure that your organisation remains focussed on the customer and doesn’t get lost in the day-to-day issues of the business. After all, as I have been quoted many times for saying:
“There may be customers without brands, but there are no brands without customers”
Think about it; do you have the right priorities? How do you know? Have I missed an essential step off of my list above? If so, let me know. Please also share which of your actions towards customer centricity you are struggling with the most. Together we’ll find a solution.
C³Centricity used images from Denyse’s latest book “Winning Customer Centricity”, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and in all good bookstores.
This post is based on one that was first published on C³Centricity; you can read it here.